6.8/10
1,192
23 user 13 critic

Bliss (1985)

After a near-death experience, a man wonders if he actually did die and is now in Hell.

Director:

Ray Lawrence

Writers:

Ray Lawrence (screenplay), Peter Carey (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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A series of short films that serves as a love letter to Australia's largest city.

Directors: Ray Lawrence, Ivan Sen
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Barry Otto ... Harry / Husband
Lynette Curran ... Bettina / Wife
Helen Jones Helen Jones ... Honey Barbara / Prostitute
Miles Buchanan Miles Buchanan ... David / Son
Gia Carides ... Lucy / Daughter
Tim Robertson ... Alex Duval
Jeff Truman ... Joel
Bryan Marshall ... Adrian Clunes
Jon Ewing Jon Ewing ... Aldo
Kerry Walker ... Alice Dalton
Paul Chubb ... Reverend Des
Sarah De Teliga Sarah De Teliga ... Harry's Mother (as Sara De Teliga)
Saskia Post ... Harry's Daughter (as Saski Post)
George Whaley George Whaley ... Vance
Robert Menzies Robert Menzies ... Damien
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Storyline

Harry suffers a heart attack and has a near-death experience that changes his outlook on life. His miraculous return convinces him that there is a heaven but that his life on Earth is hell. His wife Bettina has her worst fears realized when she develops brain cancer from gasoline fumes. His son David deals cocaine and receives sexual favors from his drug-addicted sister Lucy. Harry finds love with a kind-hearted prostitute "Honey Barbara" who kills a top oil-company executive, and then herself, with Molotov cocktails. Shocking scenes include cockroaches bursting from Harry's stitches after his open-heart surgery, and fish dropping from in between a woman's legs onto a restaurant floor. This bizarre and often slow-moving film lampoons the luridness of the human condition. Written by David Carroll <davidc@atom.ansto.gov.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

After Harry Joy dropped dead... his life was never the same again.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Australia

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 February 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Blogosc See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

AUD3,400,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Was shown on Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) by John Hind on his film show, and created a mass controversy due to the film's sexual content. The complaints at the time created the most criticised event ever on the ABC. See more »

Alternate Versions

There is a Director's Cut version running 135 minutes. The main addition is a lengthy monologue to camera by the protagonist in a police station. See more »

Connections

Featured in Reading Australian Film (1988) See more »

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User Reviews

Too much.
25 April 2002 | by SpleenSee all my reviews

If Lawrence had cut out a third of the film it would have been better. Within reason, I think he could have got rid of ANY third. A third of the storyline could have gone (the beginning, the middle, the end, or fragments throughout), or a sixth of the storyline plus a sixth of the character development, or a third of the quirkiness, or a third of the odd devices (straight-to-the-camera narrative could have stayed on condition the dream sequences went, or vice versa, or some such). It's like the plate of an overly ambitious diner at a banquet, with quail eggs, a potato dumpling, salad, a banana fritter, baked trout, a small slice of quiche, a strawberry, eggplant, satayed parsnip with brown rice, two roast chestnuts and four kinds of cheese. Thankfully, the elements are positioned so as not to ruin one another's flavour, but there's just too many of them.

But at least this is a fault on the right side.

It's as if "Bliss" were a repository, or a central font, of all of the offbeat black humour, all the odd characters, and all the quirky local colour, to have appeared in every Australian film made since. This isn't a bad thing. (My earlier complaint is that its ferociously luxuriant growth could have been cut back by a third and it would STILL have contained all the offbeat black humour, etc.) What makes it great is that it's more sincere than any of its imitators. A mere seventeen years old, it seems to date from a magical, all-but-forgotten pre-digital age, when we REALLY made films, and didn't just play at doing so.

On reflection: I don't care if there IS too much here. So much of it is so good, like the prim, fascist manager of the lunatic ward, the scene in which the cancer map is unveiled (Lawrence makes much out of a mere conversation in a hotel room), and the "love letter" to Honey Barbara. The strength which flows through the film's limbs is probably inherited from the era in which it was made. This decade (from a few years into the 1980s until a few years into the 1990s) saw Australian society at its most optimistic, tolerant and decent. We've come a long way downhill in the short time since.


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